Victoria. Great South West Walk, GSWW
Shire of Glenelg, Victoria, Australia
time : Oct 21, 2019 9:29 AM
duration : 5h 56m 20s
distance : 17 km
total_ascent : 120 m
highest_point : 25 m
avg_speed : 4.0 km/h
user_id : gstreet
user_firstname : Carl
user_lastname : Greenstreet
There is something magical about walking along a remote beach with the wild ocean waves crashing in at your shoulder. It’s a boy’s own fantasy - Robinson Crusoe, Castaway or such. You walk the beach scanning the sand ahead wondering what treasures you’ll discover washed up by the wild waves. Today’s walk is not to be rushed but savioured.
As foreshadowed, I had a bit of a sleep-in and did not rise until 7:30 or so. No hurry today as I only have 17 kilometres to cover and the tide is dropping most of the day from a pre-dawn high tide so any delay works to my favour.
I have a leisurely breakfast, reading my book, and eventually break camp and start walking around 9:30. The Lake Monibeong camp is set well back from the ocean so it takes me over a half hour to reach the shore.
I stop on top of a high sand dune next to the beach and, when I check, I see I have two bars of 3G signal. I have neither enough bandwidth or the patience to try to upload my trail journal but I send to family and friends a selfie of me waving at them with the ocean waves breaking in the background.
Now it’s time for some beach walking! The tide is still moderately up on the beach but generally the sand is acceptably firm except for a few stretches where I just motor through it. Accept what the trail gives you is a lesson I learned long ago so I don’t really worry about it. It will be as hard as it will be...
There is a lot more rubbish and man made detritus washed up along today’s beach section. I hate the environmental harm the nets and plastic on marine life but I try to find the beauty in it and I photograph the more interesting items.
Periodically, I come to a more narrow section where the highest waves are coming within a few metres of the steep dune cut bank. These section are scrubbed clean of any flotsam, natural or man made.
I come across a find that excites me: the vertebrae of a whale! I’ve never seen one outside a museum. It’s huge; larger in diameter than a chair seat. I spend some time photographing it in different compositions while thinking about the life this gentle giant must have lived. I eventually walk on, eyes peeled for more of the whale skeleton which I do not find. Where are his ribs, his skull? Have they sunk into the deep, even now making an artificial reef home to even more marine life?
The sand gets progressively softer as the day progresses so I take more breaks. I come across a humongous group of tiny birds, moving almost in sync as the dart in the retreating waves to forage and the run like toddlers at the beach in front of the next wave coming in. They are a joy to watch particularly when they take flight together.
My first thought was that these were hooded plovers which are an endangered beach dweller. I even said this on the video I took. But I’ve been thinking about this and I think I initially got it wrong. My best guess is that they were sandpipers.
The other awesome thing about today is the weather fined up to sunny, blue skies and a light breeze. I stripped down to my tee shirt and rolled the arms up to my shoulders. Tomorrow I think I will ditch the running tights and hike in shorts. Wednesday it may even get hot!
I finally reach the beach exit to the Swan Lake camp. It’s well marked and at a gap in the dunes so easy to spot. I climb to an adjacent dune and check reception- two bars 4G! I make use of having signal and message family and upload yesterday’s trail journal.
Once that is done, I hike the two kms through the dunes which are used by a Portland Dune Buggy club. On the other side of the dunes are the camps, set in trees and scrub. The first camp is the dune buggy club camp and their are two large buses there and school kids up on the dunes.
The Vic Park camps are adjacent. I pass by a man with a camper and say g’day then stroll into the adjacent walkers camp.
I make camp quickly and easily. For once, there is little wood around for the fire. I figure my fire will just have to be brief. The camper nearby comes over and said he noticed me scrounging for wood and offered to bring some wood over in his truck from the nearby dune buggy camp. Bingo! Ask and the trail will provide.
His name is Mike from Western Australia. He has been travelling around Oz the past few years. He says the dune buggy club had a 50th anniversary camp this past weekend and they left the wood they did not use.
I go over with him and we cart back enough wood for tonight and probably for the next camper too! I really like his 4WD set-up and we talk about it for some time. I’m looking to put together an expedition vehicle and he gives me lots of ideas.
Pure trail magic! Thanks, Mike.
Mike also tells me that the path past my camp leads to a nice freshwater lake in a few hundred metres. He says he often bathed in it when camping but it’s cold.
I’m sweaty from the walk and think this might be just the treat so I walk to the lake which is deep blue and pretty.
I strip down and wade out and, boy, it is cold! It’s shallow for quite a ways so I just go thigh deep and splash water all over my head and body. Refreshed, I sit on a lakeside rock and let the sun and wind dry me.
It’s six pm and I’m starting to get hungry. Time to make dinner. Tomorrow’s beach walk, 21 kms, is reportedly much more challenging with steeper beach and soft sand. It should be an adventure!
Mike came by with a beer after dinner and we had a nice chat around the fire. Another trail angel!
Oh, no leeches or snake sightings. Carl 8 / Leeches 0